Ansar al-Sunna Shariah

FormedMay 2007
DisbandedGroup is active.
First Attack2008: While there have been no verified attacks, AS Shariah has posted videos online that claim attacks against American military personnel.
Last Attack2009: While there have been no verified attacks, AS Shariah has posted videos online that claim attacks against American military personnel.
UpdatedJuly 27, 2015

Narrative Summary

While unclear when Ansar al-Sunna Shariah (AS Shariah) was established, the group is believed to have split from the largely Kurdish group, Ansar al-Islam (AI), in 2007 due to AI's alleged ties with Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). [1][2].   Members of AI who objected the targeting of Iraqi civilians by AQI became AS Shariah, while those who supported a peaceful relationship with AQI remained with AI. [3]  Two leaders of AI who left to form AS Shariah, Abu Sajjad and Shaykh Abu Hind, aligned with the Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI) and the Mujahideen Army (MA) to form the Jihad and Reform Front (RJF). [4] AS Shariah is named on the Jihad and Reform Front's May 2007 founding statement, although some evidence suggests that AS Shariah did not completely break from Ansar al-Islam until July 2008. [5] AS Shariah aims to purge Iraq of foreign influence and establish strict Shariah law within the nation. They appeal to numerous sectors within Iraq, such as other jihad groups, the media, Iraqi tribes, and Muslim scholars and imams. [6] 

Since its inception, AS Shariah has operated under two umbrella organizations, the RJF and the Political Council of Iraqi Resistance. Almost all of AS Shariah's announcements have come in the form of joint communiqués from one of the two fronts. Both of the front organizations are considered to be moderate relative to many of the other jihadi groups operating within Iraq.  AS Shariah, as a part of Political Council of Iraqi Resistance, entered into talks with U.S. forces, although they were unable to reach any meaningful results. [7] Furthermore, they have said that they would not attack polling places for elections, unlike AQI and its affiliates. AS Shariah has not shown a proclivity for large attacks on the scale that Ansar al-Islam has, but does support the killing of foreign forces in Iraq. [8]

Since 2010, there has been no reported activity or declarations from the group.

Leadership

It is believed that AS was started by former leaders of AI.

  1. Abu Sajjad (2007 to Unknown): In 2007, Sajjad left AI and aligned with the Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI) and the Mujahideen Army (MA) to form the Jihad and Reform Front (RJF).[9]
  2. Shaykh Abu Hind (2007 to Unknown): In 2007, Hind left AI and aligned with the Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI) and the Mujahideen Army (MA) to form the Jihad and Reform Front (RJF).[10]

Ideology & Goals

AS Shariah follows an extreme interpretation of Islam with a focus on Iraqi nationalism. As part of the umbrella organization Jihad and Reform Front, AS Shariah supports the killing of foreign military personnel, but has openly criticized other insurgent groups for targeting Iraqis and particularly Muslims. [11]

AS Shariah advocates fighting Shiite influence in Iraq, though not as vigorously as AQI. As part of RJF, one of AS Shariah's short-term goals is to unite all of the Iraqi militant factions together in a unified front [12]. In the long term, the group strives to liberate Iraq from foreign forces and establish a state ruled by Sharia Law. [13]

Size Estimates

The size of AS Shariah is unknown.

Designated/Listed

AS Shariah is not a designated terrorist organization, but its parent organization, Ansar al-Islam, was designated by the United States in Chapter Six of the 2011 Country Reports on Terrorism. [14]

Resources

The source of AS Shariah's material resources is unknown. However, the Jihad and Reform Front claims to have access to Katyosha, CK5 and Krad rockets. [15] Some researchers have suggested that RJF may get assistance from Saudi donors, though have given no evidence to support their claims. [16]

External Influences

There is little evidence of AS Shariah having any external influences; however, while there is no support to this claim, researchers have suggested that RJF may get assistance from Saudi donors. [17]

Geographical Locations

AS Shariah operates primarily in northern Iraq. [18]

Targets & Tactics

AS Shariah, as part of the Jihad and Reform Front, strictly targets foreign forces within Iraq, especially U.S. military personnel. [19] There are videos of IED attacks against U.S. military vehicles that claim to be made by AS Shariah, but these videos cannot be independently verified to depict AS Shariah members. [20] Various jihadi websites have attributed attacks to this group, but these claims remain unverified. [21] [22]

In 2009, AS Shariah’s “Science and Technology Body” developed a missile named the Ansar Arrow. The missile had a range of 70 kilometers and is capable of carrying chemical, conventional, and nuclear payloads. Despite a 51-page manual and instructional video, it cannot be verified this missile was ever used or actually manufactured by the organization. [23] [24]

Political Activities

AS Shariah does not consider the current Iraqi government to be legitimate, labeling it as a "traitor" government. [25] However, they do not rule out the possibility of working within a political system based on elections and popular consensus as long as that system conforms to Islamic laws. [26] 

AS Shariah is part of the political front organization, the Political Council of Iraqi Resistance (PCIR). This council has shown greater political flexibility than other jihadist groups. It entered into talks with U.S. forces and sources say they may be quietly backing candidates for the Iraqi Parliament. [27]

Major Attacks

AS Shariah has claimed responsibility for IED attacks against U.S. military vehicles, but these videos cannot be verified to depict AS Shariah members. [28]

  1. July 2008: A video of an attack claimed by AS Shariah shows an IED hitting an American supply truck. (Casualties Unknown).[29]
  2. September 2008: A video claimed that an AS Shariah sniped and killed an American solider in Northern Baghdad. (One Casualty).[30]
  3. November 11, 2008: A video of an attack claimed by AS Shariah depicts supposed members of the group blowing up an American Humvee with an IED. (Casualties Unknown).[31]

Relationships with Other Groups

AS Shariah is part of two front organizations: Jihad and Reform Front (RJF) and the Political Council of Iraqi Resistance (PCIR). [32] [33] Because of this participation, it can be speculated that AS Shariah has favorable relations with the groups in the RJF, including the Islamic Army in Iraq and the Mujahedeen Army, and groups in the PCIR, including Hamas Iraq. [34]

 AS Shariah and Ansar al-Islam (AI, formerly Ansar al-Sunna) have a problematic relationship. AS Shariah is believed to have split from AI due to AI's support for AQI’s method of targeting Iraqi citizens. AI claims that AS Shariah, as part of the RJF, is really a front for foreign forces aiming to deceive the Muslim community. [35] 

 The RJF, of which AS Shariah is a founding member, also has a long running feud with AQI over tactics. For their part, AQI seeks to sabotage RJF activities, such as reconciliation talks with the Iraqi government. [36]

Community Relationships

AS Shariah's relationship with the community is unknown, although it does not agree with AQI style attacks on Iraqi civilians.


References

  1. ^ "Islamist Websites Monitor" The Middle East Media Research Institute, No. 95. (May 4, 2007), retrieved on January 29, 2010 from http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/2177.htm
  2. ^ "Ansar al-Sunnah Group Denies Joining 'Jihad and Reformation Front'," Jihadist Websites via Open Source Center, OSC Summary: GMP20070503338001[0], May 3, 2007.
  3. ^ "Jihad and Reform Front," Jane's Terrorism and Security Monitor. March 20, 2009.
  4. ^ "Shiriah Committee of the Ansar Al-Sunnah Army's "Book of Truth or an Imaginary Fantasy'" Foreign Policy. Web. 24 July 2015.
  5. ^ "Ansar al-Islam in Angry Split," Jane's Terrorism and Security Monitor. October 10, 2008.
  6. ^ "Jihad Organizations in Iraq Establish New Front." MEMRI: Islamist Websites Monitor No. 95. Web. 24 July 2015.
  7. ^ Abu Rumman, Muhammad. "Sunnis in Iraq's Election: An Evolving Balance of Power." Arab Reform Bulletin of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. February 24, 2010. Retrieved from http://www.carnegieendowment.org/2010/02/24/sunnis-and-iraq-s-elections-evolving-balance-of-power/2fp
  8. ^ Abu Rumman, Muhammad. "Sunnis in Iraq's Election: An Evolving Balance of Power." Arab Reform Bulletin of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. February 24, 2010. Retrieved from http://www.carnegieendowment.org/2010/02/24/sunnis-and-iraq-s-elections-evolving-balance-of-power/2fp
  9. ^ "Shariah Committee of Ansar al-Sunna Army: A 'Book of Truth or an Imaginary Fantasy." Statement published by the Shariah Committee of Ansar al-Sunna. August 5, 2008. Retrieved from http://www.nefafoundation.org/miscellaneous/nefaansarsunnah0808.pdf
  10. ^ "Shariah Committee of Ansar al-Sunna Army: A 'Book of Truth or an Imaginary Fantasy." Statement published by the Shariah Committee of Ansar al-Sunna. August 5, 2008. Retrieved from http://www.nefafoundation.org/miscellaneous/nefaansarsunnah0808.pdf
  11. ^ Jihad and Reform Front Establishing Statement, Reform and Jihad Front Official Website. Retrieved on July 27, 2011 from http://rjfront.info/english/index.php?option=com_content&Itemid=28
  12. ^ Jihad and Reform Front Establishing Statement, Reform and Jihad Front Official Website. Retrieved on July 27, 2011 from http://rjfront.info/english/index.php?option=com_content&Itemid=28 . In the header of the Reform and Jihad Front's official website there is a Qur'anic quote stating, "And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (i.e. this Qur'an), and do not be divided amongst yourselves."
  13. ^ "Jihad Organizations in Iraq Establish New Front." MEMRI: Islamist Websites Monitor No. 95. Web. 24 July 2015.
  14. ^ "Chapter 6. Foreign Terrorist Organizations." U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State, 31 July 2012. Web. 21 July 2015.
  15. ^ "Joint Operations for the Factions of the Jihad and Reform Front" Jihad and Reform Front Website, June 11, 2008. Retrived on August 5, 2010 from http://rjfront.info/english/index.php?option=com_content&Itemid=1
  16. ^ Abu Rumman, Muhammad, "Politics of Sunni Armed Groups in Iraq." Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: Arab Reform Bulletin. Retrieved on July 24, 2011 from http://www.carnegieendowment.org/2008/08/18/politics-of-sunni-armed-groups-in-iraq/cb6
  17. ^ Abu Rumman, Muhammad, "Politics of Sunni Armed Groups in Iraq." Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: Arab Reform Bulletin. Retrieved on July 24, 2011 from http://www.carnegieendowment.org/2008/08/18/politics-of-sunni-armed-groups-in-iraq/cb6
  18. ^ "Shariah Committee of Ansar al-Sunna Army: A 'Book of Truth or an Imaginary Fantasy." Statement published by the Shariah Committee of Ansar al-Sunna. August 5, 2008. Retrieved on August 2, 2001 from http://www.nefafoundation.org/newsite/file/nefaansarsunn
  19. ^ "Jihad Organizations in Iraq Establish New Front," Islamist Websites Monitor No. 95. May 4, 2007. Retrieved on August 5, 2011 from http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/2177.htm
  20. ^ Retrieved on August 5, 2011 from http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=099_1227981134 and http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=a7b_1226354921 . The Arabic on the bottom of video states that this was made by the Shariah Committee of Ansar al-Sunna as does the insignia in the upper left.
  21. ^ Retrieved on August 5, 2011 from http://www.jhuf.net/showthread.php?8718-Ansar-al-Islam-quot-The-Sniper-quot-(2008)-and-Sharia-Committee-quot-Ansar-Sniper-quot-(2009)-Redeployments
  22. ^ "Joint Operations for the Factions of the Jihad and Reform Front" Jihad and Reform Front Website, June 11, 2008. Retrived on August 5, 2010 from http://rjfront.info/english/index.php?option=com_content&Itemid=1
  23. ^ "Iraqi Militants Develop New, Enhanced Surface-to-Surface Missile." CBSNews. CBS Interactive. Web. 21 July 2015.
  24. ^ "Iraqi Insurgent Faction Demonstrates New Missile." SITE Intelligence Group. Web. 21 July 2015.
  25. ^ "The Politics of Sunni Armed Groups in Iraq." Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Web. 24 July 2015.
  26. ^ Abu Rumman, Muhammad, "Politics of Sunni Armed Groups in Iraq." Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: Arab Reform Bulletin. Retrieved on July 24, 2011 from http://www.carnegieendowment.org/2008/08/18/politics-of-sunni-armed-groups-in-iraq/cb6
  27. ^ Abu Rumman, Muhammad. "Sunnis in Iraq's Election: An Evolving Balance of Power." Arab Reform Bulletin of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. February 24, 2010. Retrieved on August 5, 2011 from http://www.carnegieendowment.org/2010/02/24/sunnis-and-iraq-s-elections-evolving-balance-of-power/2fp
  28. ^ Retrieved on August 5, 2011 from http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=099_1227981134 and http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=a7b_1226354921 . The Arabic on the bottom of video states that this was made by the Shariah Committee of Ansar al-Sunna as does the insignia in the upper left.
  29. ^ "LiveLeak.com - IED Hitting an American Supply Truck." LiveLeak.com - IED Hitting an American Supply Truck. Web. 24 July 2015.
  30. ^ "LiveLeak.com - Sniper Shoots an American Soldier in N. Baghdad." LiveLeak.com - Sniper Shoots an American Soldier in N. Baghdad. Web. 27 July 2015.
  31. ^ "LiveLeak.com - Shariah Committee of Ansar Al Sunnah: Huge IED Attack on Humvee." LiveLeak.com - Shariah Committee of Ansar Al Sunnah: Huge IED Attack on Humvee. Web. 24 July 2015.
  32. ^ Jihad and Reform Front Establishing Statement, Reform and Jihad Front Official Website. Retrieved on July 27, 2011 from http://rjfront.info/english/index.php?option=com_content&Itemid=28
  33. ^ Abu Rumman, Muhammad. "Sunnis in Iraq's Election: An Evolving Balance of Power." Arab Reform Bulletin of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. February 24, 2010. Retrieved on August 5, 2011 from http://www.carnegieendowment.org/2010/02/24/sunnis-and-iraq-s-elections-evolving-balance-of-power/2fp
  34. ^ MacAskill, Ewan. "Sunni Insurgents Form Alliance against US." The Guardian. 11 Oct. 2007. Web. 16 July 2015.
  35. ^ Islamic State of Iraq Statement "Statement from the Islamic State of Iraq on the Occasion of Five Years of Crusade Invasion of Iraq [sic]." Retrieved on August 5, 2011 from http://www.nefafoundation.org/newsite/file/FeaturedDocs/nefaisi041108.pdf , 3.
  36. ^ Roggio, Bill. " 50 Killed in al-Qaeda in Iraq Suicide Assault in Tikrit." Threat Matrix: A Blog of the Long War Journal. Retrieved on August 5, 2001 from http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2011/03/53_killed_in_al_qaeda_in_iraq.php

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